Hey guys! You all know it was my birthday last week, and after writing my heart out to you in last week’s blog post, I thought I could highlight the fun of being a millennial cross-breed Indo-German cocktail! Turns out birthdays in India are celebrated so differently and it took me a while to figure this out. In the beginning I felt this as a burden to never being able to actually celebrate my birthday the way I want, but now I figured I can just pick and choose from the different cultures that flow in my blood and make the most of this special occasion to celebrate MY life!
When I first moved to Mumbai, I had a culture shock with the birthday celebrations because they are completely different in Germany and India! I remember the first birthday party I attended here for a friend and the moment her cake came out I grabbed the knife to cut it for her. Suddenly there was an aching groan going through the room like I had just stabbed her in the heart. The 50 guests stared at me in disbelief like this did not just happen. I didn’t get it. What did I do? Well, turns out in India you can’t touch someone’s cake before they have cut the first piece themselves. Oh! How I love to get to know different cultures. In Germany, we must cut the cake FOR YOU. Anyway, the cake was quickly reassembled, the cut concealed with chocolate to the finest detail, and in great applause my friend cut her (almost) brand new cake! The situation was saved, the luck regained and I was sent to sit in the corner to avoid further disasters.
So I thought, let me just quickly share the top 3 differences to celebrating birthdays from the West to the East, so next time you are on a trip around the world don’t fall into the same trap of awkward silence like me!
1. The time of celebration!
In India we make it a point to bring the cake out sharp 12am of your birthday. Singing songs and giving praise to the birthday child, we celebrate the first seconds with loud laughter and many drinks the night before your birthday. Waking up, well if you’re not trained in this custom, with a major hangover and headache to rest out on your day off aka your birthday.
In Germany: We go to sleep, we wake up, it’s your birthday! A favourite breakfast prepared by family and friends is usually how it starts, followed by many gifts, more people dropping in and out and finally in a big birthday bash at night. Enjoy the hangover the next day at work, so people know you had a big party!
2. The cake cutting!
Like briefly mentioned before: In India the birthday child gets to cut the cake and then her friends get to rub the rest of the cake into her face with lots of drama and picture taking!
In Germany: Mom cuts the cake. I have to eat at least half of it to show her I liked it. And it’s almost an honour as a friend to be invited to share into the cake with me. Maybe a piece or two are being sent over to close family and friends who couldn’t make it.
3. What do YOU want to do?
In India it’s really not that much about your own ideas on your birthday. It’s all about what your friends pre-decided is going to happen (to you) on your birthday. With love and precision the venue and surprise are planned. Like every year no-one speaks about your birthday before it happens, which is the first clue to something being planned. At 11:30am you are under some false pretence lead to restaurant by a not so close friend (since all your close friends were busy organising people and cake) and surprise!
it’s 12am all your friends have come out to toss you in the air and celebrate your big day!
In Germany a surprise party doesn’t happen as often. It’s usually your 3 best friends who ask you “So… Should we do something, or just chill this year?” I love it! Cause I seriously just want to chill, every year!
I love all my friends and their excitement in celebrating the way they do. It makes me feel extremely loved to see their sparkling eyes in surprising me, just as much as their no interest whatsoever face! I guess I just love them. Secretly, I just want to spend my birthday in my pyjamas with a clay mask on my face stopping the ageing process for a few hours, sip my mimosas in a sea of shiny LED balloons (click here to get some!) and unpack tons of gifts!
How do you like to celebrate your birthday? Tell me in the COMMENTS!